The Road to Unforgetting
My new photography collection, coming this fall
I am so thrilled to be able to announce that my forthcoming collection of photography, THE ROAD TO UNFORGETTING: DETOURS IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH, 1997-2022, will be released later this month from Horse & Buggy Press.
The Road to Unforgetting gathers 175 of my black-and-white film photographs from road trips across the American South from 1997 to 2022, along with an introductory essay on the imaginative potential of the unplanned detour. A meditation on “back-roading” with a film camera as a spiritual excercise, Road documents lesser-known, often unmarked, sites in the history of the South that exist off the main drag of collective memory. A powerful collaboration of word and image in search of deeper truths, Road points towards a more complete understanding of America’s most singular region.
“Pete Candler and I share a deep and abiding love for the South, despite its troubled past and complicated present. The Road to Unforgetting is a nuanced and personal exploration of both, revealed by his words and his imagery to coexist poignantly, and perhaps uniquely, in the South.”
The book will be available at the end of the month, but is available now for pre-order. Click the button if you want to reserve a copy:
I have been working closely for the last several months with Dave Wofford, the brains behind Horse & Buggy. Designing and publishing this book has been very much a collaborative process, which is unusual in the publishing world. Much of the design should be credited to Dave, whose vision for this book profoundly shaped its final form. I was first drawn to Horse & Buggy because of the beautiful work Dave has published by people I admire and am fortunate to call friends, like Allan Gurganus and Tom Rankin and Jill McCorkle. Plus, H&B is based on Broad Street in Durham, a couple of blocks from where I once lived. I am a passionate advocate of small presses in the South, so I was both honored and psyched that Dave decided to take on this project and to give it a kind of home in Durham. Because, as I think will become clear along The Road, place matters.
When I first imagined creating some sort of photography collection out of my Southern Tours with John Hayes, I never really expected it to look this good. Dave has done an amazing job, and I hope you will love the final product as much as I do.
The book is, of course, a collection of photography, but it is also something like a minor treatise on the nature of the road, what roads mean to Americans like me, and what they might mean to Americans not like me. For example, I discuss the inspiration I took from the WPA Guides, and the significance of the fact that I did not need to use them alongside a Green Book. I took the opportunity in the introduction to this work to be a little speculative, to let my brain wander—to detour, if you like—and think about the unplanned road trip as a kind of spiritual exercise. Here, from the preface to Road, is a taste of what I mean:
“I believe the combined practice of getting off the main road, shooting film, and yielding to the mysterious and hidden guidance of the road itself requires a disposition of humility, slowness, and patient attention that can be positively therapeutic in an age that often seems to encourage the opposite habits. American literature may be poorer for our lack of nymphs or dryads or hobbits; but we do have more than our share of “genie-souls,” those tutelary spirits who attend American roadsides, who seem to dispense their weird revelations with an almost indecent prodigality.”
This book is in some ways a record of the genie-souls I have gotten to know over a quarter century, and what they have taught me. I hope you will enjoy this new work, and even be able to use it in some way.
Thank you so much for being here for this first transmission from The DETOURIST. I am so very grateful you are along for this ride.